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Weekend Draft Prospects Preview 4/8-4/10

I'll be covering Rendon live this weekend.

At the start of the 2011 college baseball season, I went immediately to the Rice University schedule, trying to see if Anthony Rendon would be anywhere near me during the 2011 season.  Rice was playing Marshall (4 hours, 15 minutes away), but unfortunately the game was a home game.  Then I saw that Rice was playing East Carolina, at East Carolina.  That’s five hours away, but luckily my best friend lives in the Raleigh area, and doesn’t mind me crashing at his place while I make the one hour drive to ECU for each game.

At the time, I was looking at this as an opportunity to see the guy who was the consensus choice for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2011 draft.  I was going to be snapping some photos, which would eventually be used on the cover of the 2012 Prospect Guide.  I was going to get some video, giving everyone a look at the guy who would eventually be drafted by the Pirates.  I was going to get an interview, getting his thoughts on having back to back amazing seasons, and being the consensus number one prospect in the draft.

Then, two things happened.  One, Rendon struggled with a shoulder injury, and saw his offensive numbers drop for various reasons.  Two, Gerrit Cole stepped up in a big way, and is being called by some as the top overall prospect in the draft, surpassing Rendon.

I’ll still be going to East Carolina this weekend.  I’ll still be getting video of Rendon, but there’s no longer a guarantee that this video is of a future Pirates prospect.  I’ll still be getting photos, but there’s no longer a guarantee that those photos end up on the 2012 Prospect Guide.  I’ll still be getting an interview, only instead of talking about his great season, I’ll be asking him about his shoulder, his low power numbers, the new bats, and whether he has been pitched around.

If you’ve read the site, you know I still like Rendon.  I believe he’s suffering from a lack of protection in the lineup.  Consider this: since Jeremy Rathjen went down for the season, Rendon has walked in 41.1% of his plate appearances.  That’s 30 walks in 73 plate appearances.  Just for reference on that, in 2004, when no one would pitch to Barry Bonds and he walked 232 times, he drew a walk in 37.6% of his plate appearances.  Rendon even has more walks (11) than at-bats (8) in his first four games in the month of April.  Even more amazing, he has more walks on the season (47) than hits (40), and he currently has a .370 average.

What once looked like a trip to get a look at a guy who would be the next big Pirates prospect is now a trip to get a look at a guy and see whether he should be the next big Pirates prospect.  I’ll be providing updates all weekend, both on Twitter (@pirateprospects), and on the site, with daily recaps, plus video and an interview, both of which will go up early next week.  I will also be seeing Austin Kubitza, the Pirates’ seventh round pick from the 2010 draft, on Friday night.  I’ll be interviewing him as well, following up on the draft (the last time I interviewed him, he was still undecided about signing), and talking about his great season so far with Rice.

And this is the point where I make the plug that all of this is made possible by the 2011 Prospect Guide.  If you like the coverage you’ve seen on the site in the last few weeks (the Spring Training coverage, the minor league season previews, the player features, the interviews, and now the Rendon trip), and you’d like to see more, or just want to support the site, go to the Products page and order your copy of the 2011 Prospect Guide and the 2011 Annual (get a discount when you order both at the same time).

The schedule for Rendon and Cole this weekend:

FRIDAY

6:00 PM EST – Rice (Rendon) at ECU

8:30 PM EST – UCLA (Cole) at Washington State

SATURDAY

3:00 PM EST – Rice (Rendon) at ECU

SUNDAY

10:30 AM EST – Rice (Rendon) at ECU

People to follow on Twitter for updates:

Rendon: @pirateprospects @Chronicle_Owls @FSH_Owls @RiceOwlsdotcom

Cole: @DBSports @RyeUCLAbaseball

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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